Healthy Survivors get good care. And good care depends on healing doctor-patient relationships. But what happens when your doctors talk only in physicalist scientific terms, and you want (or need) to talk about your illness in terms of spiritual or emotional imbalance? Throughout history patients have told stories about their illnesses in order to deal with existential questions, such as "Why me?"
Today's patients tell stories, too. This is because despite the great advances in medicine in the past 75 years mystery still surrounds hard-to-cure illnesses - such as why they occur in some people when they do - and how best to address hard-to-measure factors that impact recovery from such illnesses. Stories help patients satisfy their need to find meaning in what is happening to them.
The introduction and ch.I of The Cure Within (see post of Jan 28) opened my eyes to the importance of recognizing and respecting patients' stories (i.e. beliefs about why they got sick and what they need to do to get well again.) Healthy Survivors find ways to fit science into their story. Physicians help patients become Healthy Survivors by helping them take advantage of the real benefits of science, without unnecessarily threatening their patients' belief systems.
That's all very nice if the two blend seamlessly, such as when patients with strong spiritual faith believe that God is working through the science and skill of their doctors to help them get well. Problems arise when patients' beliefs conflict with science. In future blogs, I hope we talk about these problems and how to overcome them.